Quotes of comments that were made in discussion of the HD598 (may be taken out of context):
“The mids are the SHOW STEALER, folks.”
“headphone that resembles Amber Heard's tongue”
“The only negative that I can think of is lack of sturdy chrome... That's all it really needs.”
“The HD-598 is one headphone that seems to be a near perfect”
“I don't feel sound pressure even at dimsum restaurant volumes.”
“I like the HD598 in a majority of aspects over the HD650”
“when I first unpackaged my HD-598 I suddenly had a craving for Banana Cream Pie.”
“Yup, this is the first time that I felt Sennheiser made something that sounded right… but I would caveat 'in 15 years' on the end of that for me.”
“I *THINK* the HD598 sounds like a mini-Stax Omega 2.”
“If the HD800 was the king of Sennheiser land, then the HD598 is the romantic, smooth-talking prince of the land. The HD6XX brothers may be a bit more mature but ultimately more unattractive and fat. HD598 will inherit the land when he comes of age at 698 or 798. Time will tell.”
“If I was to characterize the HD598 as a type of food, I would say they are cow tongue. Not foie gra, it's too expensive. More like cow tongue boiled a good 3 maybe 4 hours. It's sweet, smooth, soft, and slightly heavy. It tastes great with everything. If the HD598 was more refined, then maybe I would consider them to be foie gra, but they aren't fit for tables of high society. Maybe one day Sennheiser will make something that is worth being characterized as foie gra.
HD598 is cow tongue.”
“I already associated the other Sennheisers as older fat men. I guess whatever you can associate with maturity and obesity, that would be the other Senns. Pickles and garlic may be appropriate.”
“It's my favorite dynamic driver headphone. Easily.”
“HD-598 has better imaging, comfort, a larger soundstage, a more neutral sound and more engaging mids.”
“Well that's comfortable...”
“do i recommend them? Yes, definitely!”
“HD598 is how headphones (or music) are supposed to sound.”
“The DT880, HD6XX, or K701 maybe technically superior, but they are musically inferior”
"Try the HD598. Be a believer. Hear the future."
I liked these headphones so much that I decided to write a review for them. These headphones have some of the best midrange reproduction and soundstage out of almost all the headphones I’ve tried. There are only three headphones that I know to have the HD598’s midrange and soundstage. One is near impossible to find (I only know two other people on Head-fi that own it and it took one of them three years to find one, ATH W11R), one costs you over $1600 not including the required $1000+ amplifier (Stax Omega 2 MK1), and this HD598 ($175).
Amplification and source
Amplification-wise, my Anedio D1 dac is more than enough for these headphones. They are dead simple to amplify so source is the most important part of the chain. The HD598s sound MUCH more spacious and less fatiguing through the Anedio D1 than through my computer’s audio out. Detail retrieval is incomparable. I heard more subtle echoes and sounds that I could not hear through my computer out.
Generally, it's sound could be described as very wide and speaker-like with an intimate midrange. Instruments recorded at a distance sound as if they are coming through from a speaker at a distance. Close mic'd instruments and vocals sound more personal.
It has one of the largest soundstages in a headphone that you ever hear without sounding disconnected. They sound even more spacious and airy than my car speakers. The star of the song sounds like it’s in front of you and the backing music sounds like it’s around it. So everything sounds right for being so spacious, which cannot even be said about some headphones like the HD800. As a bonus, the HD598s sound extremely effortless and non-fatiguing, almost like an electrostatic headphone. They are so easy to listen to that it’s surprising these are dynamic headphones. I have never associated the word “effortless” with any other dynamic nor orthodynamic headphone.
The midrange is the star of the show as it should be. Music is all in the midrange and it’s surprising how many companies don’t voice their headphones this way. Any recession or peak somewhere in the midrange will render the headphone sounding unnatural. The HD598 breathes and lives because of this midrange.
The midrange allows these headphones to sound good with any genre. Rock, pop, jazz, classical –especially classical-, you name it. The midrange is full, detailed, balanced. Male and female voices sound natural and acoustic instruments sound like they are made of wood.
There is a slight upper mids peak that needs EQ adjustment to sound more natural.
Congestion - The midrange can become congested in songs where vocals and bass are prominent. It is a common problem with headphones with this type of signature.
Lows and Highs
These are the biggest weaknesses of this headphone. The bass lacks impact. Sub-bass and bass are there and it surrounds you, but it doesn’t hit you. You can feel the bass and the subbass rumble, but not as much as it should. The highs are balanced with the midrange. I noticed a weird annoying 17-20K treble peak in these headphones and cymbals have a strange inaccurate timbre. Rolling the frequency down cures my problems. Imaging is improved and cymbal timbre sounds right. Also, I’ve never heard sibilance from these headphones even without the treble rolled off.
The lack of bass will be a deal breaker for bassheads, but bassheads need to get closed headphones. There may be better rock headphones with better bass impact to match the genre, but for what it is, it does it very well. It's low range is the quiets of the sound frequencies. You can hear the low range notes, but it lacks texture. You hear the bass notes, but not the instrument I guess you can say. If you’re a music lover, you should appreciate having at least one of the 3 midrange oriented headphones I mentioned before. If you’re a detail freak, then take a shower and chill. Stop fessing, stressing, obsessing about the details. The HD598 can allow you to forget all of the silly audiophile analysis and listen to music. A $175 headphone isn’t going to give you the best detail though rivals, Beyerdynamic DT880 and AKG K7XX, may sound more detailed, but I’d like think they are technically superior, musically inferior.
Olivia Ong-How Insensitive
Excellent for these songs. Her voice and echo floats over the band. Saxophone sounds rich and the guitar sound full. Near end of the song the bass just surrounds you helping create the club ambience. The drum clacks sounds near the back of the room while the guitar and saxophone are appropriated placed at the sides. This song actually sounds more airy and spacious on these headphones than through my car speakers.
MYK- Weekend Sesh
This type of music is easily a match for these headphones. Guitar slaps can be felt. Male vocal sounds full. The singer is right in front of you. The ending of the song just surrounds you with voices
Beethoven Symphony No.7
Easily good with orchestral music. Extremely spacious. Excellent timbre and instrument separation. I don’t hear congestion even on the busiest passages.
Rise Against – Audience of One, Entertainment
Rock songs surround you with excellent instrument separation. Every instrument can be clearly discerned. The bass drum may lack some impact and the guitar sound too smooth for some people. However, the fact that rock still sounds so energetic but not fatiguing in any way is quite a feat. These headphones are great for rockers that don’t want ear bleed when they listen to their favorite rock songs.
Lady Gaga – Telephone
The HD598 just doesn’t have the club atmosphere for this song. The bass sounds too smooth. Everything surrounds you, but doesn’t make you want to jump. My W11R was much more capable of reproducing that overemphasized bass to clubbing levels. However, you can still enjoy pop with these headphones, but for extremely bassy songs like these, it’s best to get a closed headphone.
The headphones sound very natural and IMO closer to neutral than most of the headphones surrounding Head-fi that are touted as neutral but are in fact bright. However, they sound more speaker-like than the actual instrument, but for the price, it does what it does very well. If you wished the AKG K70X had fuller mids, these headphones may be for you. If you want something versatile, natural sounding, spacious, and not fatiguing, these headphones are for you. If you want the perfect headphones for games and movies, these are for you. If you listen to a lot of acoustic music, these headphones are for you. If you want the bass in songs to knock you unconscious and you only listen primarily to bass oriented music, then you can pass on this. Low resolution and high resolution music will sound good with these headphones allowing those with almost any kind of situation (except bassheads, though bassheads can still enjoy this headphone as a complement to their other headphones) to enjoy these headphones.
Wrap-up: Pros + Speaker-like soundstage, intimate mid range, not very resolving
Cons - Bass is quietest in the sound balance, mid range congestion, not very resolving
Edited by wind016 - 5/24/11 at 12:23am